1. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    Tandem!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Samuel Lighton, Jun 15, 2016.

    Ok, so I was talking to someone and they said that they watched three things in tandem.

    I questioned them and asked:
    "You watched them all at the same time?"

    They replied:
    "No I watched them one after the other. In tandem."
    "You mean, consecutively?" - Me.
    "No no, tandem means one after the other. I'm a professional translator, trust me." - Them
    "Tandem means at the same time, not one after the other, that would be consecutively." -Me
    "Hold on..." - Them, to which they copy and pasted this.

    http://i.imgur.com/rz7NRxA.png

    a (1) : a 2-seated carriage drawn by horses harnessed one before the other (2) : a team so harnessed
    (b) : tandem bicycle
    (c) : a vehicle (as a motortruck) having close-coupled pairs of axles 2: a group of two or more arranged one behind the other or used or acting in conjunction.

    "See? I'm right." -Them.
    "What? No you're not." -Me.
    "That's not what Merriam Webster says. Look, 'a group of two or more arranged one behind the other or used or acting in conjunction'" -Them.
    "a group of two or more arranged one behind the other IN PHYSICAL PLACEMENT OR POSITION" - Me
    "used or acting in conjunction USED OR ACTING AT THE SAME TIME" - Me.
    "The second one applies to what you were doing, now acknowledge your defeat good sir!" - Me
    "Sigh. I can't be bothered to argue with stupid. I'm going to bed. Goodnight." - Them


    At this point I feel a little uncertain because of their insistence, but I know this is what tandem means. At the same time. So am I right?
     
  2. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    I had to ponder this. Initially, I would have said your friends were correct. But I think that's because I've heard it used that way before. When I really thought about it (and that actually hurt a bit) I thought "No. @Samuel Lighton is correct". Then I thought "Hmmm, perhaps he's not, actually". So, to be completely sure before I posted and made an ass of myself I looked it up and - voila!!!

    adjective
    adjective: tandem
    1. 1.
      having two things arranged one in front of the other.
    I go with your buddies :confused:
     
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  3. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    Yeah but this is thing. That has no respect for time, that's physical placement of two objects in the same instance of time. Watching two things in tandem to me means 'at the same time' not 'one after the other' because that would be consecutively.


    It's difficult because of all of this:

    You and someone else can sit on a tandem bike in tandem.
    When you're pedalling the bike, you're both pedalling in tandem (Unless one of you is lazy).

    When you're sat behind someone in a movie theatre you're sitting in tandem with them?
    When you're watching the move, you're watching it in tandem with everyone in the theatre.

    It applies to the placement of physical objects and their positions to each other, or it applies to actions being performed at the same time.

    So to watch 3 episodes of a TV series in tandem, means the act of watching all 3 is happening at the same time, as in you have 3 screens each individually playing episode 1, 2 and 3 respectively. If you watch 3 episodes of a TV series following on from each other, as in you watch episode 1, then watch episode 2, then episode 3 - you aren't watching them consecutively and in consecutive order, not in tandem.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you're both right wrong.

    I wouldn't talk about watching things in tandem, I'd use consecutively. But I wouldn't use tandem to describe watching them at the same time, I'd use simultaneously.

    Let's take your movie theatre scenario. I'm sitting just behind you, so we're seated in tandem. Because the light takes longer to get from the screen to me than it does to you (OK, microseconds) we're watching the film in tandem, i.e., one after the other.

    "A tandem-charge or dual-charge weapon is an explosive device or projectile that has two or more stages of detonation." i.e., the first detonation will create a weakness that will be exploited by the second detonation.
     
  5. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    On the example, it's still a very bad one, because it's not referring to the times that the charges detonate, it's the fact there are two charges behind one another. The charges themselves detonate consecutively after each other. Not in tandem.

    I'd personally not use tandem for watching two or more things at the same time, but it does apply as a word I could use. If I were watching something one after the other in time then it's consecutive.

    What I understand about tandem is that it refers to two things:
    • The placement of two objects in proximity to one another.
    • The act of doing multiple things at the same time.
    Applied to the original statement it's wrong according to the context, but it is possible to watch multiple episodes of a tv series at the same time on multiple screens, i.e. in tandem.


    On my 'movie theatre' example, I respect your scientific accuracy, but it's not observationally relevant. It's not even micro seconds difference, and would represent a non-observable difference to a human being. Now if it were two advanced machines watching the movie......

    Anyway, I would suggest to take that, despite the insanely small differences in time it takes to reach these two people's eyes, they are still engaging in the act of watching the movie, whether it's the exact same frame or not.

    So, am I wrong?
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  6. Earp
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    Earp Active Member

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    I don't think one person can do anything 'in tandem'. The word implies two entities operating together at a single task, regardless of their respective positions, like the tandem bicycle examples above, or like a team of oxen.
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes.

    And so's your friend.

    Neither of you is using the word tandem correctly, and there are MUCH better words to describe watching something at the same time, or at different times.

    Altogether, this whole thread is an argument about who's using the wrong word more incorrectly than the other, and the answer is either or both.

    My movie theatre example was an attempt at humour. My bad.
     
  8. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    So if both examples are wrong shadows, what is the correct usage?
     
  9. Midge23
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    Midge23 Member

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    Shadow fax is quite correct.

    As a noun = a tandem bicycle is an actual thing. So is a carriage driven by two horses, one harnessed in front of another. They are both describing an actual object.

    We could say: 'They rode a tandem bike along the canal path.' We know exactly what type of bicycle they were riding.

    'They rode in tandem along the canal path.' They each had their own bicycle, and they rode one behind the other.

    If the cinema only had two seats, we could say they were placed in tandem (and that the person who designed the cinema is a moron.).

    If two solders were approaching the enemy we could say:

    'Years' of training showed as they worked in tandem, one covering the other as they darted from doorway to doorway, closing in on the enemy.'

    To say: 'I watched TV and ate a pizza in tandem.' is just wrong. You did not do both things at the same time, nor did you do one thing after the other. It is just the wrong word.

    Hope that makes some sense(?).
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  10. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    Well not really. I said that tandem meant actions performing at the same time, which you've used as an example, or objects placed together or behind one another, which you also used as an example haha.

    All that I am getting is that it means two items used together to perform an action, like an engine and gearbox work in tandem to move the wheels of a car, and so tandem actions are ones taken at the same time. Which means I've really muddied my original point in the sense that's what I was saying all along.
     
  11. Midge23
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    Objects placed one behind another = in tandem.

    Objects placed together side by side = not in tandem.

    I did not use an example of objects placed 'together' as being 'in tandem'. It needs to be one behind another.

    Tandem does not mean actions performed at the same time (deleted 'together', as this confuses the point), and I have not used that as an example. To say that two people 'worked in tandem' is a phrase that means they worked together. So an engine could be said to 'work in tandem' with a gearbox.

    Just because actions happen together does not make them 'in tandem'.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  12. Samuel Lighton
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    Ahhhhh, I was taking the stagecoach as two objects side by side. I've seen stagecoaches with horses side by side, not one by two. And the cinema, who would place one seat behind another when you could have them side by side, ambiguity hurt that example.

    So now what I'm getting is 'two things working together towards one outcome' across the board. Tandem bike is a noun, but the two riding it are operating in tandem. The couple riding on two separate bikes (entity) are riding (action) towards the same destination (goal), in tandem. The stagecoach is pulled by two horses (entity), the horses are working to pull (action) the stagecoach (goal), but are not side by side. Or could they be?

    Is that accurate?

    Note: all of your examples, all of them, have two entities performing two of the exact same action, towards a single goal. Even the soldiers are performing the same action of advancing in tandem, as they are operating as a pair in a single unit, working to advance. This is where my confusion is, because to me that is clearly what is happening, but you're saying that's not what tandem is.
     
  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    [​IMG]

    Two horses in tandem.

    A stagecoach would typically be drawn by several pairs of horses, each pair in tandem; the classic Wells Fargo stagecoach was (per Hollywood!) four horses, two pairs; there's a Steeleye Span song which includes the line "riding in a coach and six" which would be six horses, three pairs.

    upload_2016-6-15_13-43-38.jpeg

    The engine and gearbox are not performing two of the exact same action. The engine does its power creation thing, and the gearbox does its power transmission thing.
     
  14. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    My mistake on the example not matching up with the statement, but that still hasn't proven it generally wrong:

    Two entities performing an action or actions towards one result.

    Two entities placed one in front of the other.

    How's that?
     
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  15. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    The OED recognises not only the noun and adverb form of 'tandem', but also the phrase 'in tandem', which it defines as follows:

    1. alongside each other; together;
    2. one behind another;
    It is not specific whether the first definition means physically or chronologically together, though the definition of it as meaning 'alongside each other' implies that this is locational rather than temporal. So I think it is incorrect to use the word 'tandem' or the phrase 'in tandem' to describe something occurring either 'simultaneously' or 'consecutively'. However, I have heard the phrase 'in tandem' used to mean 'cooperatively', as in we achieve more by working in tandem. I don't particularly like this usage as there is a more accurate word available.
     
  16. Midge23
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    Okay, I think we know where we have misunderstood one another.

    This would be my take on it:

    To say two people are 'working in tandem' means that they are 'working together.' So if two people were riding separate bicycles are they really 'working together' or just out for a ride? So I would use 'tandem' only to describe that one was riding behind the other.

    The horses pulling a carriage, even though they are 'side by side', could be said to be 'working in tandem' with each other. But, because a tandem carriage (where one horse is harnessed behind another) is an actual thing, I would avoid the word 'tandem' as I think it has the potential to confuse.

    The solders do not have to be carrying out the exact same action to be working 'in tandem' with each other. In the same way that an engine and gearbox do different things but 'work together' to a common end.

    If the solders are 'advancing in tandem', this means they are advancing one in front of the other. If they are 'working in tandem to advance' they could be side by side, or one advancing whilst the other remains stationary. It depends on whether you are using 'tandem' as an adverb to modify 'advancing', or using the phrase 'working in tandem' to signify that they are working together/alongside one another.
     
  17. Midge23
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    Midge23 Member

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    The actions don't have to be identical, just working together, especially well or closely. When my engine and gearbox don't work in tandem I have to call a mechanic.

    Edited to add that I am not sure whether you were agreeing or disagreeing. My 15 month old was throwing her lunch all over the lounge and I was somewhat 'distracted'!
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  18. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    To say two people are 'working in tandem' means that they are 'working together.' So if two people were riding separate bicycles are they really 'working together' or just out for a ride? So I would use 'tandem' only to describe that one was riding behind the other.
    The riding is the action though, not the objective or the effect, it's the taking a ride together that's the goal. Otherwise they are just two people riding two separate bikes. Two entities, working, towards a goal.

    The horses pulling a carriage, even though they are 'side by side', could be said to be 'working in tandem' with each other. But, because a tandem carriage (where one horse is harnessed behind another) is an actual thing, I would avoid the word 'tandem' as I think it has the potential to confuse.
    No arguments here! :D I personally don't use the word, it was the use of the word by another person that irked me, and further irritated me when they insisted I was 'stupid' because they're a translator and could not be wrong.

    I did make a post just before your final two paragraphs, I made a mistake using the word exact in my summary rules for it, here it is again:

    Two entities performing an action or actions towards one result.

    Two entities placed one in front of the other.



    Is it limited to two for the first line? Or is it simply a 'specialist' word that really relies on more to be clear? Can it be applied to a group of people, working together or would it have to be differentiated into two entities? Like, management and, well, drones?
     
  19. Midge23
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    All the examples I can see talk about 'two' things. Personally I would go for 'together' once I had three or more.

    With regard to the cycling, I can see your point but I would chose not to use 'tandem' in that way.

    I have found an example of 'in tandem' relating to 'at the same time': 'The heart and lung will be transplanted in tandem'. So it would appear that you could use it this way: 'The computer servers will be swapped out in tandem.' Meaning that both servers will be changed at the same time, rather than changing one this week and the other, the next.

    Aren't words fun!
     
  20. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I very much doubt that! I think it's perfectly clear that they will be transplanted one after the other, but during the same procedure, and this week (well, today) rather than one this week and one next week. Were it to be done "at the same time" I'm sure the heart team and the lung team would get in each other's way something chronic. So, this is a perfect example of temporal tandem-icity.

    Yes, I was agreeing.

    All over the lounge? You either have a very small lounge, or a very capable 15 month old!;)
     
  21. Midge23
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    I am perhaps exaggerating for effect, but I occasionally come across pieces of fruit in strange places and think, 'you were strapped in your chair, how on earth did this strawberry get here?!'

    That heart/lung example came from the Cambridge Dictionary website, but you make a good point. I wonder whether this is an example of a word moving away from its strict dictionary definition in modern usage?

    I have officially reached the limit of my limited, but expanding, knowledge!
     
  22. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    My condolences on the 15 month old front :p


    I do believe that the use of tandem in that instance means 'during the same operation' rather than explicitly the very same instance of time, referring rather to the event in it's entirety. But whatever! I'm bored of 'Tandem' now. It's a sucky word that should suck no more!
     
  23. Midge23
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    Midge23 Member

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    We have worked together across the interwonderweb, in tandem, to try and understand...

    I'll get my coat.
     
  24. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    Wow! I'm glad I ducked out of this conversation early. Too much for my pea brain :meh:
     

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